MPS '22, Global Development
- Hometown: Elk Point, South Dakota, USA
- Colleges attended and degree earned: University of South Dakota: Political Science, Sustainability
What are the big challenges you want to tackle in the world?
I aspire to a career that combats climate change, poverty, and hunger; empowers women and young people; and promotes data-driven policies that are sound, sensitive, and sustainable. While tackling these big issues, I hope to inspire agency and confidence in those I work with along the way.
What were you doing before the MPS program?
Before joining the program, I served as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate, where I learned more about how targeted agricultural and nutrition policies affected people and their livelihoods, especially for school-aged children. This experience highlighted the importance of blending policy with practice, propelling me toward more hands-on experiences.
I served first as an education fellow in Ecuador and later as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Myanmar, where I worked in government schools co-implementing new English language curricula and strengthening capacity of local teachers. Following my Peace Corps service, I joined Plan International Myanmar, where we designed and implemented new program modalities for education, outreach, and empowerment for parents and youth during the pandemic.
What does global development mean to you?
To me, it's local change with global impact. It's addressing structural and institutional barriers to growth, equity, and security while retaining cultural and environmental diversity and integrity. It's about sharing what we know and admitting what we don't. But perhaps most importantly, global development believes in a better future--and our direct ability in shaping that future.
What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?
Due to the prevalence of stunting and anemia in Myanmar, I sought to leverage my role as a Peace Corps Volunteer and English teacher to address child nutrition and low health literacy among teachers at my school in Kahnyaw, Mon State. Creating an introductory food and nutrition course, we covered everything from food groups and what makes a healthy plate to food-related illnesses and how to identify and navigate dehydration and vitamin deficiencies by maximizing locally available goods. The best part of the course was gathering at my house on the last day and celebrating by cooking new recipes and sharing them together.
Connect with Michelle:
- mlc332 [at] cornell.edu